SailGP returns to the water in Abu Dhabi

Published on January 11th, 2024

Following holiday break, the SailGP league returns to the water on January 13-14 for the Abu Dhabi Sail Grand Prix. As the seventh stage on the 13-event schedule for Season Four, here are five things to watch out for when racing gets underway in Abu Dhabi at 2:00pm GST (5:00am EST):

SailGP’s first ever event in Abu Dhabi
This weekend’s event marks the first time SailGP has ever visited the UAE capital, marking a first for all competing teams. With a light air forecast and tight racecourse on the iconic Mina Zayed, Abu Dhabi promises to throw a fresh set of challenges at SailGP’s 10-strong F50 fleet.

Giles Scott’s racing debut at Emirates GBR driver
Freshly unveiled as Ben Ainslie’s immediate replacement, Olympic champion Giles Scott will take the wheel for his SailGP racing debut on board Emirates GBR this weekend. With a few days of practice in Dubai behind him, and another crucial training day in Abu Dhabi, Scott will take charge of the team and go head to head against the F50 fleet for the first time.

The return of Tom Slingsby

After missing Dubai for the birth of his first child, Australia driver Tom Slingsby will return to the Flying Roo this weekend, and remains on the hunt for the team’s first Season 4 victory. Still top of the leaderboard, the triple SailGP champions haven’t won an event since Season 3’s San Francisco Grand Final, despite appearing in all six Season 4 Finals so far. Could Abu Dhabi host the Aussies’ first win of the season?

The wind whisperer returns
With ROCKWOOL DEN driver Nicolai Sehested out on paternity leave, former Japan driver Nathan Outteridge – who drove Japan to two season finals – will take over the Danish wheel. It will be a fresh challenge for Outteridge – who last drove an F50 18 months ago and has been working with the Switzerland SailGP Team since Season 3 as a sailing advisor. But with a reputation for dominating in light air venues, could Nathan Outteridge steer ROCKWOOL DEN to its first ever event win?

Is France running out of time?
Abu Dhabi marks the 7th event of Season 4’s 13-event calendar – which means we’re now past the halfway point of the season. From here on in, the pressure will really ramp up on the mid-level teams. After a commanding Season 3 performance with driver Quentin Delapierre, France has so far had an underwhelming Season 4. Currently sitting 8th out of 10th teams, time is running out for Delapierre to turn the team’s fortunes around. Can the French transform its Season 4 fortunes with a stellar performance in Abu Dhabi?

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Season Standings (after six of 13 events; results and total points)
1. Australia (Tom Slingsby/Jimmy Spithill), 2-3-2-2-3-2; 52 points
2. Denmark (Nicolai Sehested), 4-2-4-7-2-6; 41
3. New Zealand (Peter Burling), 1-7-8-DNC/6-4-1; 40**
4. Great Britain (Ben Ainslie), 7-6-1-1-8-5; 38
5. United States (Jimmy Spithill/Taylor Canfield), 9-5-5-3-1-8; 35
6. Spain (Diego Botin), 5-1-3-6-6-10; 33*
7. Canada (Phil Robertson), 3-4-10-5-5-3; 32***
8. France (Quintin Delapierre), 6-8-6-4-7-4; 31
9. Switzerland (Sebastien Schneiter), 8-9-9-9-7; 15
10. Germany (Erik Heil), 10-10-7-8-9-10-9; 10****

*Spain SailGP Team docked two points in Season Championship for four-point penalty at Spain Sail Grand Prix | Andalucía-Cádiz.
**New Zealand SailGP Team unable to compete in Taranto due to the structural failure of the team’s wingsail at France Sail Grand Prix | Saint-Tropez.
***Canada SailGP Team Docked four points in Season Championship for eight-point penalty at France Sail Grand Prix | Saint-Tropez.
****Germany SailGP Team docked two points in Season Championship for four-point penalty at Oracle Los Angeles Sail Grand Prix.

Season 4 – 2023
June 16-17 – United States Sail Grand Prix | Chicago at Navy Pier
July 22-23 – United States Sail Grand Prix | Los Angeles
September 9-10 – France Sail Grand Prix | Saint-Tropez
September 23-24 – Italy Sail Grand Prix | Taranto
October 14-15 – Spain Sail Grand Prix | Andalucía- Cádiz
December 9-10 – Dubai Sail Grand Prix | Dubai*

Season 4 – 2024
January 13-14 – Abu Dhabi Sail Grand Prix | Abu Dhabi
February 24-25 – Australia Sail Grand Prix | Sydney
March 23-24 – New Zealand Sail Grand Prix | Auckland
March 23-24 – New Zealand Sail Grand Prix | Christchurch
May 4-5 – Bermuda Sail Grand Prix
June 1-2 – Canada Sail Grand Prix | Halifax
June 22-23 – United States Sail Grand Prix | New York
July 13-14 – SailGP Season 4 Grand Final | San Francisco
* Added October 3, 2023

Format for Season 4:
• Teams compete in identical F50 catamarans.
• Each event runs across two days.
• Up to seven qualifying fleet races of approximately 15 minutes may be scheduled for each regatta.
• The top three teams from qualifying advance to a final race to be crowned event champion and earn the largest share of the $300,000.00 USD event prize money purse (increases to $400k after Abu Dhabi) that’s divided among the top three teams.
• The season ends with the Grand Final, which includes the Championship Final Race for the top three teams in the season standing with the winner claiming the $2 million USD prize.
• The top team on points ahead of the three-boat Championship Final will be awarded $350,000.00.

For competition documents, click here.

Established in 2018, SailGP seeks to be an annual, global sports league featuring fan-centric inshore racing among national teams in some of the iconic harbors around the globe.

Source: SailGP

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